Do I Tell Employer I Have a Criminal Record?

Why Tell Employer About Your Criminal Record

I am often asked “Should I tell a potential employer about my criminal record?” I believe there is a benefit to telling an employer about your criminal record.  That does not mean it is the first topic you discuss.

Remember, a job interview is like a first date: you want to make a favorable impression right off the bat.

Evidence has shown that when an employer meets a job applicant in person, an employer is less likely to reject a candidate because he has a criminal background.

Since Illinois passed its "ban the box" law the subject of whether someone has a criminal background often does not arise until a job offer is made or a background check is conducted.

The best time to disclose your criminal background is after you’ve been offered a job and before you undergo a criminal background check.

Most job offers today are conditioned having a “clean” background. Depending on the employer, a “clean” background can mean one of several things: 1) no felony convictions, 2) no conviction in the last seven years, or 3) no record at all.

Employers Appreciate Being Told About Criminal Record

The benefit of telling an employer about your record is twofold: 1) you get an opportunity to explain what was going on in your life at the time the crime occurred (e.g., you were addicted to drugs or alcohol); and 2) employers appreciate when a job candidate is forthcoming about his or her past.

Context is everything. Do you want an employer to know simply that you were convicted of battery?  Or, would you rather explain why you were charged with the crime?

Sometimes, the why you did (or didn’t do) something may persuade an employer to hire you, despite your record.

Some employers believe in second chances, while others need a reason to give you a second chance.